By MIKE KRAFCIK6 News Reporter
SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - Several car clubs organized a show Sunday to benefit Courteney Kaliszewski, 16, who was killed in a church van crash on September 16.
The Mossy Creek Cruzers and the Hamblen County car clubs hosted the benefit in Sevierville.
The junior at Seymour High School was killed when the church van she was riding in crashed on the way back from a retreat in Gatlinburg.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says a Chevy Blazer driven by Tyler Schaeffer crossed the center line of Chapman Highway and hit the church van head on.
The driver of the van, 45-year-old Jeff Trussell, of Maryville, was also killed.
Schaeffer was found to have narcotics in his vehicle. He also has a criminal history.
"There's no money that can bring Courteney back, but we can keep her memory alive and with us at all times," said June Howerton, a member of The Mossy Creek Cruzers Car Club.
Her parents, Joe and Nancy Kaliszewski, attended the event. Joe brought his 1970 Dodge Charger, which was decorated in her honor.
"Her dad sort of got her into the car thing, because he loves cars, and Courteney was sort of a tom-boy like, she just loved cars," said Ted Farmer, a Kaliszewski family friend.
Around 100 registered cars and car club members showed up to event, many of whom never met Courtney. Members of another organization, Royal Car Club, sold wrist bands in her honor.
"It makes me feel good to help any way we can," said club member John Power.
"She just enjoyed seeing this car and riding in it," Farmer said. "It was one of the last hot rod cars she rode in before her death."
Farmer, an owner of a 1970 Dodge Challenger RT, remembers the day Kaliszewski was by his side when he won top honors at a car show this summer.
"I wasn't even going to take the car, but she talked me into it," he said. "She could talk you into anything."
Family members said Kaliszewski was heavily involved in the Cedar Grove Baptist Church through mission work.
"She was a down-to-earth girl. You could tell she was very smart, and one of those bubbling personalities that everybody loved when you met her," Farmer said.
The money raised Sunday will not only go toward Courteney's funeral costs, but also for the medical bills of the other two church group members injured in the crash.
"They're going to need surgery and we're going to need to help them, too. Courteney would want us to do that," Howerton said.
Organizers said the event raised around $1,500. The money will also benefit Courteney Kaliszewski's mother, who is undergoing treatment for an intestinal disease.
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